The much-talked-about ’10-3-2-1-0 Sleep Formula’ claims to give you more productivity and restful sleep—but does it actually work?
It sounds too good to be true: a formula that helps you to sleep better and feel better to get the most out of your day. When I first discovered it, I thought most of it sounded achievable—but before sharing it with you, I wanted to prove it for myself.
The 10-3-2-1-0 formula, developed by fitness coach Craig Ballantyne, claims to ‘get you to bed on time, sleep better, and wake up the next morning well rested and ready for battle’. All you have to do is follow these five steps:
- 10 hours before bed – Stop drinking caffeinated drinks (cola, tea, coffee).
- 3 hours before bed – Stop eating and alcohol intake.
- 2 hours before bed – Stop working.
- 1 hour before bed – Stop looking at screens (including TVs, phones, computers, tablets).
- 0 – The number of times you should hit the snooze button in the morning – that’s right, not even once!
But does it actually work?
Sleeping My Way Through The Formula Steps
As a ‘numbers’ person, I found the concept pretty easy to follow. However as a creature of habit, the experiment turned out to be a little harder than first anticipated. With an aim to get to bed between 10pm and 11pm each night, this is how following the formula worked for me…
10 hours before bed – No more coffee
This was a fairly easy rule for me to follow. I am a ‘one coffee a day’ kind of person. I’m talking good, barista-made coffee – none of this instant or pod nonsense, that doesn’t count. I aimed to enjoy my daily good coffee by midday or 1pm at the latest, and on most days, this was easily achievable.
3 hours before bed – No more food or alcohol
Again, I found this not too difficult. On most days, I don’t drink alcohol, and I just needed to make a conscious decision to have dinner before 7pm or 8pm. The biggest adjustment was to stop the occasional snacking after dinner. It’s been a good habit to get into, and one that is achievable, at least on routine weekdays when you’re not out socialising with friends.
2 hours before bed – No more work
Who doesn’t want this rule? I found this pretty painless, until I realised this involved my social media interaction on work accounts. Many of our comments and questions come in after 9pm, so there are times when this is a little tricky. But because being social doesn’t feel so much like ‘work’ maybe I can get away with this one, especially if I follow the next rule…
1 hour before bed – No more screens (including TVs, phones, computers, tablets etc.)
To my absolute surprise, this was by far the hardest rule for me to follow, and one I still break from time to time. I define my ‘down time’ to be zoning out to a silly TV show, or playing games on my iPad; even my night-time bible reading was on my phone! So I initially found it very difficult to fill a whole hour before bed without doing this.
I began by pulling out an ‘old school’ bible, and then I found books sitting on the shelf that I had never read. After spending years ignoring many books that I’ve always wanted to read, I’m finding myself enjoying the experience of turning page after page, and realising I can get through a chapter in no time. Praying, reflecting on my day, being thankful, all of these things can be also be enjoyed without looking at a screen – what a huge revelation! I realised not only the ‘bad’ habits I had formed, but how much I was missing out on. Admittedly I still have a love-hate relationship with this rule, and it is the one I break more times that I would like to.
0 – Number of times you hit the snooze button
This was probably the easiest for me, as it’s something I don’t do anyway. Once my brain is awake, no amount of body or mental tiredness will let me get back to sleep.
Ballantyne’s Sleep Formula: The Verdict
I have to say, the 10-3-2-1-0 formula really worked for me. When I followed each step, I slept through the night without having to get up, I woke up refreshed, and I usually woke up at the same time each morning without the need for an alarm. There were no periods of lying awake at night, less aches and pains when I got up, and no foggy head the next day. I was not only surprised at how it worked, but what it taught me about my daily habits—and how a few simple adjustments can make a very big difference.
So my advice to anyone struggling with their sleep patterns is: give it a try! There is no monetary cost, not much to lose, and plenty to gain if it does turn out to be a winning formula for you.